The Burden of this Cross

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Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.   Matthew 16:24

ἀπαρνέομαι

aparneomai

to forget one’s self

lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests

disown, abstain

Jesus’ words strike a hard cord in me.  I am called to follow Jesus because I have chosen His way over mine, yet I still want to do things my way, guide the direction of my own life, take my own chances.  Then I hit a wall and it hurts.  I run on empty, unable to go anywhere in life except down by the pull of gravity.  In order to follow the Lord, I am to deny myself, releasing my desires and hopes for His, His alone.  When I am in step with Jesus, all that He desires for me are those things I need.  An interesting piece of God’s puzzle for my life is His desires for me are often just what I desire for myself.  I’m not losing after all.  The relationship with Christ is far more important so that I walk rightly with the Lord.

αἴρω

airō

  bear (up)

place on oneself

to carry

My burdens can be worries, anxieties, physical pain, other people’s lives and their concerns, hurting people of this world, and so much more.  All can weigh heavily upon my heart.  The Word tells me not to be anxious, not to worry.  He is faithful and is with me.  He feeds and clothes the birds; He will do the same for His children.  So I lift those weights and take them to Jesus.

σταυρός

stauros

a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment)

figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial

by implication, the atonement of Christ:—cross.

The cross is what Jesus was placed upon for His crucifixion.  It is a horribly cruel punishment and eventual death.  Scourging comes first.  The one being crucified must carry his own cross.  Jesus did this part of the way until Simon was compelled to carry it the remainder of the way.  Jesus would hang upon the Cross until death.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  Luke 23:26

The cross is that which will kill this earthly life.

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I carry a cross, laden with burdens.  I place it there at the feet of Jesus.  He died for my sins.  Why do I continue weighing myself down?  Jesus has taken it all to the Cross.  Part of the definition of cross, in Greek, is self -denial.  I deny myself, being exposed to death, reproach, suffering, trials, punishment.  I am no longer mine, but His.

I am learning as I do that which Jesus asks of me: denying things of the self, lifting up that which weighs me down, carrying the cross to Jesus Who has already taken my burdens upon Himself.  It is in the doing, the actions of denying, lifting, and carrying to Jesus that I begin to find a clearer, deeper meaning to all that He is asking of me.

ἀκολουθέω

akoloutheō

to be or become the disciple of another as to faith and practice

to follow his teaching

Following Jesus is key to my walk in this Christian life.  When I am His, I desire to be near and to know the path upon which He leads me.  I release all burdens, knowing that He is caring for me.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

As Your child, LORD, I depend upon You.  When I feel alone, or struggling with concerns, You are right here.  You are yoked with me.  You know my physical pain, the concerns that touch my heart regarding others, my anxiousness over provision for this earthly life.  Your grace is truly sufficient, Sweet Jesus.  Sometimes I feel wrung out and worn out.  The Word says in Matthew 27, verse 39-40: And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself!  If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’  But You hung on that Cross, LORD, and paid the ultimate price for me, releasing me to walk with You always. You have given me eternal life.  How much more could I ask?  What else is there to ask?  Forgive me when I am selfish.  Often, when I deny myself, I must turn around and deny myself again, LORD, because I am selfish.  I just am, but am also very sorry.  I carry my cross to You so that I may follow You.  “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  (Matthew 10:38 ESV)  I do not want to be called “unworthy,” LORD.  Thank You for walking with me on this journey even when I fail You.  Your forgiveness, Your love, Your gentle nature give me the hope in this life that my physical eyes cannot see, yet the eyes of my heart know hope for You are the Hope.  I love You, Jesus.  I pray gently in Your Name.  Amen. 

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Graphic:  by American/Dutch web designer Catherine Reijans, founder of KATINK web design; https://thinkingmuseum.com/2013/10/30/thinking-museum-on-think-katink/  (but the actual think-Katink web design site is no longer connected, but I want to give her credit where it is due)

Cross:  http://www.themescompany.com/2012/04/17/cross/

Do You Want to Go Away As Well?

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So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.  Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me.  This is the Bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died.  Whoever feeds on this Bread will live forever.”  Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as He taught at Capernaum.

When many of His disciples heard it, they said,  “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”   But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?  Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?  It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray Him.) And He said,“This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  John 6:53-67

ὑπάγω

 hypagō

to lead (oneself) under, i.e. withdraw or retire (as if sinking out of sight), literally or figuratively:—depart, get hence, go (a-)way

 

Do I want to go away as well?  Jesus asks me too.  His teachings are hard.  They are sometimes things I don’t understand, maybe don’t want to.  Yet I do believe.  From the definition of this Greek word, I have the choice to walk away, to sink out of sight.  Those five words…to sink out of sight…seem to be what Peter did as shown in God’s Word.  He denied Jesus three times as Jesus prophesied and, each time, he sank a little further away from his Jesus. I do not want to walk away from my LORD.  I do not want to deny Him.  I do not want to sink out of sight, depart, withdraw.  Dependency upon Jesus is life…my life, my devotion, my dedication, and my obedience to the One Who died for me, took away my sins.  No, I don’t want to go away as others have, as others do, as I once did too.

I read these verses and am pierced by such a question. Yes, it is so easily possible to run far and wide with the others. Facing my Savior’s death is facing my own. Yet denying Jesus, turning away, causes me to lose the beauty of the Cross, to lose the ability to kneel before Him willingly, to miss the empty tomb, to not have the burning in my heart as I walk with Him, to lose the joy that comes with trials and piercing questions. Oh, I don’t want to go away from my Jesus.

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life, 
and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:68-69

Oh, no! L
ORD, I do not want to go away. I am Yours. Your flesh is my true food, my nourishment. Your blood is my true drink, the quencher of my thirst. I am counting the cost by this question and choose to walk with You to the Cross. I was given the word “commit” this year and am committed to You. I am pierced by Your question, but more so by Your death … ’twas for me. I am touched deeply by walking with You and knowing that some turned away from You. I do not want to be double-minded, LORD. Peter understood Your question, yet he said he loves You three times, but had denied You three times as You went to the Cross. You died for him too. Oh, I am sorry when I left You, LORD. I have asked and received Your forgiveness. May I humble myself and seek Your Holy Face, Father. May my whole being be contrite towards You. I love You. I follow You; I abide with You. You are my strength that I may go with You to the Cross, that one meant for me. In my daily journey, You provide the cross for me to carry. I am carrying it with me as I pray. You provide the joy that I can count as I face the trials in this world. Thank You, LORD Jesus. You are my One and Only Savior. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.  Psalm 51:17

All these things My hand has made,

and so all these things came to be,
declares the LORD.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at My Word.  Isaiah 66:2

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Photo:  Walking Away in Mist @ http://davidkanigan.com/ https://davidkanigan.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/walking-away-in-mist.jpg

 

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